Review: THE PRICE at Irish Classical Theatre

Brilliant Cast Delivers

By: Apr. 21, 2024
Review: THE PRICE at Irish Classical Theatre
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Something wonderful has taken to the stage at Buffalo‘s Irish Classical Theatre, as Arthur Miller’s THE PRICE is being presented in a near-perfect production. This seldom-produced play may sound somewhat stilted in its formality of language, but the story continues to be captivating, all these years after its 1968 Broadway premiere.

Miller is known for his in-depth examination of the uniquely American family experience, and in THE PRICE he delves into the story of two brothers who have become estranged after their father’s death. Almost two decades later, it is time to empty the family home and sell the contents to a furniture dealer.

Firmly anchored in New York City, the action unfolds in the attic, among the parents' furnishings stacked high. Victor, an almost 50-year-old cop, had cared for his father until his death, while his older brother Walter became a successful Doctor and all but abandoned his family for a well-to-do lifestyle. Victor’s wife Esther has lived a life of broken dreams, always having to make the best of her husband’s salary, but wanting much more.

Miller uses the cost or price of things as a leitmotif throughout the two-act play. Esther speaks of the cost of movie tickets, the cost of her new, very expensive suit, while the play is driven by the price the old antique dealer Mr. Solomon will ultimately pay for the home’s contents. But how do you value the price a human pays in life for the decisions that were made or the life that was forced upon them?

Director Fortunato  Pezzimenti has chosen to stage the play using a thrust configuration, where the audience is placed on three sides of the stage. This allowed for much more detailed scenic design that can usually be achieved in the theatre in the round employed by most of ICTC’s productions. Pezzimenti has masterfully directed the action with a fluidity that comes across as a well-choreographed dance. The tension levels are high and many confrontations become a game of cat and mouse in a tight playing area with few modes of escape. The consequences of the stock market crash, the pangs of the holocaust and the pangs of the Vietnam War have most certainly affected the players' lives. 

The cast of four are uniformly of the highest caliber. Ben Michael Moran gives a heartbreakingly beautiful performance as Victor, a man at a crossroads in his personal and work life. Eligible for retirement, it is clear that he never loved his job, and if his brother had lent him $500 years before, he probably could have finished his education and had a richer life. But demons lurk behind the true family history, and when Walter shows up after a 16 year absence, the friction mounts. Moran embodies the struggles and torments he has endured for a lifetime, with his tense marriage and fractured fraternal relation. 

Kate LoConti  Alcocer shines as Esther, and delivers a nuanced portrayal of the New York wife who wants more, and believes this money from the furniture can help place her on a higher plane. LoConti has mastered that harsh NY accent, to say nothing of the blunt straightforward attitude that Miler has craft-fully written.  Esther speaks her peace, and LoConti savors every word.

Todd Benzin as Walter literally almost waltzes into the action, leaving the ending of Act One primed for drama.  Benzin is aristocratic but wholly unapologetic, dropping in as if to say a quick hello and forget about the past. His motives are initially unclear, but he garners some short-lived sympathy as we learn of his divorce and mental breakdown. But the sparring begins and the two brothers relive their past as they try to come to terms with their present. Benzin creates a character that you want to hate but still question as possibly having a sense of morality. Moran, Benzin, and LoConti Alcocer each masterfully deliver the highs and lows, reminiscing then blaming… perfectly capturing a relatable, real-life family dynamic 

Tom Loughlin is the octogenarian furniture dealer Gregory Solomon. As Miller writes, these elderly Jewish men were a dime a dozen, dealing in antiques and jewelry in Big Apple. Loughlin is wonderfully blustery and aged, bringing a bit of comic relief along with his sage wisdom. He finds all the humor in delaying the reveal of the price he is willing to pay. But it is when he attempts to intercede on the family’s plight that the lines become blurred, and the amount of money the father secretly had places Victor and Esther into a tailspin. 

The wonderful scenic design of David Dwyer is reminiscent of many a Brownstone attic of that period and gives glimpses of a past life. Lise Harty’s costumes are spot-on and perfectly detailed. Megan Callahan is the credited  Dialect and Speech coach, and the cast uses her guidance with conviction.

The high production values alongside a dream cast make THE PRICE a not-to-be-missed evening of great theatre. 

THE PRICE plays at Buffalo’s Irish Classical Theatre through May 12, 2024. Visit the button below for more information.


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